On the Thursday of this week, DGB turns an impressive seven years old. It’s difficult to believe that for nearly every day since March 2009 I have written something about windows and doors. The quality has sometimes been questionable!
So, to mark this occasion, I thought I would share seven things I have learned during my time writing on this website, as well as working as a sales person for a decade too.
1. Seriously conflicted
When I take a step back and look at our industry as a whole, we are seriously conflicted.
On the one hand, we try and be as innovative as possible, producing better and better products year after year. Yet, we are being pulled in the opposite direction by companies that continue to swear by the old fashioned ways of selling to home owners, working on the same business models designed decades ago.
This seems odd to me. The industry wants to improve the products it sells, to sell to an educated, 21st century home owner. Yet it wants to sell the old fashioned way. Using methods often lamented by much of our industry and home owners too.
2. Slow to change
Talk about stubborn! We do not like change as an industry, at all.
Every time there is legislation change, there is an audible groan then a burying of heads in sand, hoping that if the changes are ignored, we won’t have to put the effort in to change and update our businesses.
CE Marking. MTCs/NVQs. WERs. Building Regs. IBGs. You name it, whenever there has been a legislation change, it’s been easier to get blood from a stone than get the industry to move in one collective direction. I’m not saying that I agree with the range of rule changes in recent years. But rules are rules, and we can’t stop them.
3. Nasty and selfish
I am sure every industry has this side to it, but during my time in this sector, it is very clear that there are people and companies who are clearly in this business to screw over others for the benefit of themselves. Also those that are willing to take and take from the industry, but put nothing back into it.
I am sure we all know some people like that. But on the flip side, I am sure we all know a great bunch of people who try and do their best for everyone and our industry. Not everyone in windows and doors are the selfish type.
There is something very satisfying in seeing one of my sold contracts culminate in a fantastic window and door installation.
As a sales person, my job is to build up the desire for the home owner. To create ideas and visions that will turn a window and door purchase into something aspirational and to help a home owner transform the look of their property. I love seeing the end results of my work and the feedback forms we get make for great reading.
Knowing that our windows and doors has made a positive difference to people’s homes is a genuinely rewarding thing.
5. Cliques and groups
I didn’t really understand the power of the industry’s cliques until this website started to take off and when I started the NFAs. Now, with a better understanding of the industry’s cliques and the people that form those circles, I have been able on the most part to navigate my way around them.
There are some very established “communities” and groups within this industry, some nice, some not so nice. They’re also quite allergic to change. Often because that change disrupts the way they do business or upsets the comfortable balance they are used to.
Unfortunately, these groups hold a bit too much vision-clouding power. If a clique doesn’t like the way something is going, or get wind of something new that is making in-rodes, tongues start to wag. It will never change I don’t think. Just one of those un-pleasantries you have to live with.
6. Little business protection
During my ten years selling and seven years on DGB, I have seen protection for our businesses dwindle away.
There has been a number of regulation changes in recent years that has seen customers been given rights that if exercised in a certain way, would have window and door companies well and truly over a barrel.
Whilst I am very much for consumer rights, there seems to be little protection left for business. It feels like a taboo to even talk about it, but there are some very rogue consumers out there who look to take advantage of good businesses. Where is the regulation for that?
7. Ignored and undervalued
Our industry is worth billions to the UK economy. We employ tens of thousands of people throughout the country. We’re a vital cog in the wider construction sector. Our products keep people safe and warm. Yet, we are constantly ignored by our Government.
For example, despite energy efficient windows being important to the overall energy performance of a property, we don’t get to enjoy the lower VAT status other energy efficient home products enjoys. It’s almost as if the Government looks at us, sees us doing OK without any help, and thinks we’ll just keep on battling through.
And there is a truth there. We’re a dynamic, hard working and creative industry that often has to dig itself out of a hole. No help from anyone else. It’s not right, and it’s damn frustrating. Would be nice to have the same 5% VAT rate as loft insulation though wouldn’t it?